This French-Inspired Sandwich Is The Perfect Weekday Lunch

Photo: Courtesy of Food52.
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The pan-bagnat is the sandwich version of the Salade Niçoise. You can find either in various forms all over the Mediterranean coast, where it is made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Here, olive oil-packed canned tuna is mixed with olives, red onions, fresh herbs, and vinaigrette. The salad fills the center of a crusty French baguette. In this case, "crusty" is the operative word.
The bread must have a hard crust on the outside; otherwise, it will fall apart. Pan-bagnat, literally translated, is "wet bread" or "bathed bread" — the point is for the vinaigrette to soak into the bread. In my opinion, that's what makes this such a great sandwich.
Pan-bagnat is a great solution to the brown-bag-lunch dilemma, and Waverly's version is pitch-perfect. A decidedly Niçoise tuna salad is pressed between two garlic-and-oil-slicked halves of a baguette and left in the fridge overnight, which allows all of the juices to soak into the bread. We chose to include both of the optional ingredients — crisp green beans, briny artichoke hearts — and were glad we did. The resulting sandwich was a glorious riot of colors, flavors, and textures.
Photo: Courtesy of Food52.
Pan-Bagnat: Le French Tuna-Salad Sandwich
Serves 2
Ingredients
1/2 loaf crusty French baguette
1 clove garlic, cut in half
4-6 basil leaves
1 (6 oz) can tuna
3/4 cup Niçoise or Kalamata olives, sliced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 jar or can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (optional)
1/4 cup blanched French green beans, sliced into thirds (optional)
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Photo: Courtesy of Food52.
Instructions
1. Prep the bread: Slice the loaf of bread in half lengthwise. Remove some of the insides of the bottom half to create a trough into which the filling will go. Brush both halves with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Rub each with the garlic. Line the half with the trough with the basil leaves.
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2. Mix the salad: In a mixing bowl, combine the tuna, olives, red bell pepper, onion, parsley, artichoke hearts (if using), and green beans (if using). In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the lemon juice into the olive oil until it is emulsified/combined. Pour the vinaigrette into the tuna mixture and stir to combine. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
3. Assemble: Spoon tuna mixture into the trough of the baguette over the basil leaves. Wrap sandwich well in plastic. Crush it down by placing a brick or heavy cast-iron skillet on top and refrigerate, preferably with the weight, overnight.
4. In the morning, cut sandwich in half. Enjoy for lunch at home or wrap in foil and brown-bag it (use a lunch box that will keep the sandwich chilled). Serve with cubes of feta cheese and a tart Granny Smith apple.